Monday, August 14, 2023

Lessons! Lessons! Lessons!

Just letting everyone know that I'm available for online and in person drum lessons! Full details are available on my website Or if that doesn't suit your schedule or budget, follow me on Patreon for only $5 a month!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Ted's Warren Commission at the Uptown Waterloo Jazz festival Saturday July 21st

We'll probably be playing this one when Ted's Warren Commission takes the stage at the 30th annual Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival on Saturday July 21st at 6PM! It's free (meaning it doesn't cost anything. We are generally playing tempos, chord changes and predetermined forms!) w/ Ted Quinlan , Mike Downes , and Allison Au

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Camera Pigeons at Jazz Bistro Tuesday June 13th

CAMERA PIGEONS ARE RISING UP LIKE A PHOENIX!!!! (except they're pigeons……) When: Tuesday June 13th. 8-10:30 PM Where: Jazz Bistro, 251 Victoria Street, Toronto, On Who: Lauren Falls-Bass (the instrument, not the fish) Michael Davidson- Vibes (and generally good ones!) Kelsley Grant- Trombone ( He's from Winnipeg, so his playing is the coolest!) Ted Warren- Traps (all kinds!)

Monday, May 29, 2023

More Swiss Army!


You're in luck! I haven't figured how to post longer videos on my Patreon yet, so it will be posted here as a freebie, for now. Let's face it. The old lRRL sticking IS as useful as the knife in the pictire! ! 
While experimenting in the practice room, I came up with 2 voicing around the toms utilizing this very adaptable rudiment. In the video I start with the feet playing a Bossa pattern, then play the RH Swiss Army Triplets in 8th notes. I then play the rudiment with the initial grace note on the snare with the left hand, the right hand starts on the floor tom and does a broken double to play the next note on the snare and finally the LH moves to play the last note on the small tom. In the second example the RH stays the same but the LH plays the grace note on the small tom and the last note on the snare. Have fun with it. Music is SUPPOSED to be fun! :) 

Sorry about the ghostly low tom! 

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Patreon, Patreon, Patreon!

A reminder to all that all new drumming/music info as well as archives from this page are available on my Patreon page. Only $5 a month and you get to support me directly. First 30 subscribers get a free one-of-a-kind improvised drum solo, dedicated to YOU! :)

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Why I gave up all my endorsements



When I use a term like "all"  don't want anyone to get the idea that stick/cymbal/drum/head companies have been beating down my door. Equipment companies have businesses to run (more on that later) and I reach a relatively small amount of people.

Even more importantly, my reasons for ending any exclusive relationships are mine and mine alone. I do not judge anyone else for what they're doing. Believe me, running my own life is difficult enough, let alone someone else's!

Part 1: Youthful dreams

When I first started playing, I would look at the pages of music magazines and see my heroes pictured with the sticks/heads/drums/cymbals of their choice and think, "That's what being a great musician is". I thought through talent and merit alone, these individuals earned their spot on the endorsee roster, and they had hot and cold running gear installed at their houses! So, my first motivation for getting an endorsement (besides the hot and cold running gear) was outside validation, especially because I wasn't getting any from within myself.

Part 2: The Way of the World

As I got a bit more experienced, I realized that artists rarely got gear for free, unless they were a megastar playing for thousands of people a night. Yet somehow, I thought that as a lone Canadian drummer playing mainly Jazz for a limited audience and teaching a handful of students, these companies should be giving me a key to their factories and an extra large shopping cart! This lead to some truly codependent behaviour around trying to get gear manufacturers to like me, and think that I was worthy. I went with one manufacturer purely because they pursued me (not a common occurrence, believe me) not because I was crazy about the gear, and certainly ended up regretting the decision. Later still, I started to realize that music companies are like any business, and that they are trying to make a profit and keep costs low. I don't reach enough people to make it worthwhile it invest much time or money in me, and I totally get that now.

Part 3: 10 cents a (drum) dance

I know a lot of people who have very strong allegiances to their drum/cymbal/etc. brand of choice. In fact a good friend that I went to university with has stayed with the same brand of drum that he was using almost 40 years ago! Although I remain happily monogamous in my personal life, in my drum life, I want to play the field! I would hate not to try something that looked/sounded interesting just because I stated I was playing another brand exclusively. I know some people work around this, especially some of the more famous "endorsees", but I feel it would be dishonest and inauthentic for me to do so. (See top of post.) Conversely…..

Part 4: The hear and now

I also feel at this point I can get my sound, for better or worse, out of whatever I'm playing. I like most drum and cymbals I hear, and lots of companies both big and small, make great gear. At this late stage in my career I don't want to have refrain from filming something I want to document because I don't have my "sponsored" gear there. I often play "drums du jour" as I never travel by air with drums anymore, and even try to avoid taking cymbals in that situation. As well, even with artist pricing, most equipment is super expensive, so I like the freedom of being able to shop for deals. I also think it's a very environmentally sound idea to buy used gear. Finally, I have found I actually enjoy the experience of going to my local brick and mortar music store, and buying as many or as few sticks as I want! It's no secret that actual music shops are really being hammered by the online market, and I like to support them, just as they did me when I was a young drummer.

Part 5: In conclusion

Finally, the biggest reason I wanted to stop endorsing anything exclusively is because IT WAS ALL A BIG PERSONAL EGO TRIP! It really had nothing to do with music, but rather that personal validation I mentioned earlier. I know that what I compose/play/record is beautiful and worthwhile, and that belief comes from within now.  I realize that some folks need tour support etc. but as I stated before, they work in a very different end of the music biz street than I do. :) Thanks for reading my rant, and I look forward to the next time I play, where you can see me with a drum set made of 6 different manufacturer's wares, a united nations of cymbals, and each stick in my hand made in a different continent! :) 

P.S. Trap'd is going into hibernation at this point, perhaps permanently. For new posts, see my Patreon page.

Monday, April 24, 2023

The Who - WOODSTOCK 1969 (Full Concert)

 Although I try my best to break up my drumming exercise, opinion, and video posts, it's 2 in a row after last weeks Bill Bruford footage. This is the Who in '69 at their ferocious best. There is some missing video, although all the audio is present. We, unfortunately miss the historic moment when activist Abbie Hoffman interrupts the performance and gets a guitar in the head for his trouble! Moon sounds fantastic, and has me seriously considering a set up with no hi-hat and two bass drums! Enjoy….

Monday, April 17, 2023

Bruford and the Beat

 Here's a great instructional video that Bill Bruford made in 1982. I remember hearing about it when it came out but I don't know if I would have gotten much out of it at the time. Now, however, I am very pleased with the many nuggets of wisdom contained within, as well as the beautiful solo Mr. Bruford plays at the beginning.  Note: the tunes with King Crimson are muted for copyright reasons, but you have all those albums already, right? :) Enjoy! 

P.S. Just a reminder that I am slowly moving all my Trap'd archives ( as well as constantly creating new content.) over to my Patreon page. Only $5 a month! 

Friday, April 14, 2023

My Patreon is Live!

 Hey all,

Eventually I will be moving most of my posts to my Patreon site. It's only $5 a month and I promise you'll get a lot for that! I realize for those of you that prefer this free format it's a bit of a drag but let's face it, we're living in a material word and I'm a material girl/boy/whatever……..

Monday, April 10, 2023

A Philly Joe lick

 This week I was playing around with this idea (and some variations)……

Truth be told, it's only HALF a Philly lick really, It comes from one of his trades on Miles' "Dr. Jackle" from the Milestones album. Here it is at 1:33.

It's a very simple idea, really. Sort of 3/4 of a paradiddle. That very simplicity is why it's so ideal for variations. Here's me doing a few…..

The first one is playing it as a seven beat figure (the lick plus one 8th note triplet rest) over a 3/4 pattern with the feet and I'm warbling Toots Thieleman's "Blusette" so we can really feel the waltz time…

Next up, I'm still playing it as a seven beat idea, but in str. 8ths and dead stroking the first 2 notes as I head around the drums, giving it a nice pitch variation….

Finally, here's the same idea spread out between hi-hat and cross stick, with the hi-hat also being playing in quarter notes with the LF…..

Obviously, I worked on just using the idea in 4 and moving it around the drums and the carline before I did anything else (see notation at top of the post) but I hope I've demonstrated some of the many possibilities contained in this one little idea. Also, learn all the Philly Joe trades from Dr. Jackle! Only good can come from it…….

Monday, April 3, 2023

Put your hands in the air, like you just don't care!

 Independent coordination is a funny beast. One level of challenge is to play 2 or more rhythms simultaneously. Another challenge is to play differing accents or dynamic levels between limbs. The issue I want to deal with in this post is when the hands are moving to different drums or cymbals at contrary rates or distances.

Here's the first example, that I posted awhile back on Instagram. In it I'm dividing the Jazz Ride rhythm with the RH between the hi-hat and ride cymbal (ride cymbal on 2 & 4)  and the LH is filling in the second and third triplet of every beat and moving surfaces every quarter note.

#2- LH Shuffle between Hi-Hat and snare, RH Jazz Quarter note triplets between the toms.

#3 Same as above, except RH moves between bell of cymbal and small tom.

#4 Both hands play consecutive str. 8ths. LH moves between hi-hat to snare drum on 2 & 4, RH plays downbeats on cymbal, upbeats on large tom.

#5 Same but with order of downbeats and upbeats in RH reversed.

#6 Back to shuffle, but it's in the RH between cymbal and snare, and the jazz quarter note triplets between hi-hat and small tom in LH.

#7 A little more challenging. Nanigo bell pattern12/8 beat in RH moving between bell of cymbal and snare,  LH fills in the rest of the rhythm and alternates between cross stick on snare and small tom.

#8 Same as above but both hands basically move randomly. This is a great way to check if a sticking or rhythm is internalized.

#9 Cascara w/RH moving between rim of snare and floor tom, LH filling in on cross stick and moving to small tom on beat 4 of second bar.

#10 Both hands play 12/8 rhythm. LH moves from hi-hat to snare on 2 & 4, RH alternates between ride and small tom.

#11 Similar to above, but RH plays the back beats.

#12 Another shuffle vs jazz quarter note triplet variation…

#13 Back to cascara, and only the RH moves, but I just like the sound of it! :) 

Finally, the last 2 were inspired by an exercise Bellarmine University's Terry O'Mahoney originally wrote for tympani, and involved the hands playing in 2 different time signatures and rates. In both of the videos below, I'm playing dotted quarters with my RH while I play a seven beat on/off pattern with the LH. Add a bossa foot pattern, and it creates a nice challenge and some interesting textures. 

The great thing about moving our hands about is we can breathe new life into anything we play, simply by creating new combinations of tones and thusly, new drum melodies. Have fun! 

Monday, March 27, 2023


It seems like a lot of what I see online involves what someone is doing, (e.g. the fastest, the loudest, etc.) rather than the how or why. Cue my good friend and Pianist/Journalist Peter Hum, who alerted me to this wonderful Tommy Flanagan recording Sea Changes, apparently the last one he made. Here's a great tune from it, the wonderful "Eclypso".

Flanagan and bassist Peter Washington play so beautifully on this and Lewis Nash (as always) sounds creative while still swinging and always appropriate. Above is the beat he plays at the beginning of Flanagan's solo.

RH is playing the bell of the cymbal, the snares are off, and the bass drum is pretty quiet relative to everything else. It's not a super hard beat to play, but works great at a lot of tempos, including very bright. Try it with different BD/HH parts and orchestrating the LH around the drums. Voila! Instant new vocabulary for Calypso-style tunes! 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Don't let colours get in the way of content!

 This is another one of those "Cautionary Tale/ Don't Be Like I Was" posts. :) 

As most people who have heard me would surmise, I am fascinated with pulling as many colours out of the drum set as possible, and have devoted a fair amount of time to this. That's all well and good, but it's important to know when and where esoteric sounds fit the music. I remember one time a great trumpet player in Regina, Ron Brooks, telling me that I wasn't "minding the store". I'd like to say that I immediately took his comment to heart, and worked on being as solid, as I was being colourful, but I was young and foolish. (As a sidebar, let's all give thanks to the more experienced musicians in smaller communities all over the world that guide, encourage, and tolerate younger players!) It took me a long time to realize what he meant. Listening, as always, is key. Not only listening to great examples, of solid, groovy, and often deceptively simple playing, but also listening to the band that one is playing with. It's always good to ask yourself, "Is the band getting what it needs to do its job?" "Does the beat feel firm, or am I not giving the band confidence in the time?" I'm not suggesting anyone not to try to explore interesting sounds and shapes, but as with all things, balance and taste is the key.

Here's a great example of someone who really explored the drums, but never at the expense of groove and feel. Mr. Blakey! 

NOTE: The last couple of weeks have featured recordings with Wayne Shorter, yet these posts were written long before his passing. It just goes to show what a huge force in music he's been to all of us! 

Monday, March 13, 2023

More on playing to recordings

 As I've mentioned before, playing to recordings is the closest we can get to performing with actual live musicians. I make "playing along" a regular part of my practice, and I would like to share a few thoughts relating to that…...

1. Don't only play along to what you already do well.

This may seem obvious, but it's easy to get lured into exclusively playing with recordings with feels/tempos/forms that are comfortable. Stretch yourself! If speed is your thing, play along with slow tempos. If you usually play along with Country-Rock, learn a fusion tune etc. And more about forms….

2. Try to play with whole tunes rather than loops.

I've mentioned this before, and I don't want to step on anyone's toes around this, but I feel playing with loops never gives us the whole story. By loops I mean just taking a small section of an already existing tune and have it playing endlessly. When we do this we miss out on a lot of form. Not only the structure of the tune (AABA, 12 Bar Blues etc.) but the form of the whole performance. How do we differentiate between sections of the song like in head to solos, different solos, and last solo to out head? Does the tempo of the tune change from beginning to end? What about the relative volume of the drums at differing sections of the tune? These are important issues!

3. Try to play with contained passion.

By this I mean, always remember when you're playing with recordings your first job is to keep in sync. Your second job is to outline the shape of the tune ( see above ). It's very easy to play loud enough that you drown out the recording and get out of time. It's also easy to focus on the spectacular drumming of whoever is on the original recording and not pay attention to the form soloists etc. Additionally, getting the intensity required for the performance with less volume is a great thing to strive for.

4. Do not obsess about details

I mentioned this briefly in #3. Especially when playing with Jazz recordings, try to get the essence of the performance rather than the minutia. The feel, relative mix of your four limbs, and structural elements (see #2) are more important than playing EXACTLY what has been played. If you like, go ahead and learn exactly what was played, but realize that's a separate endeavour.

5. Play along to quantized and unquantized material.

Definitely work with material that was created with a click track, sequencers, or drum machines. In fact the art to playing loosely along with music that has some sort of machine keeping the tempo exactly the same is challenging indeed. Steve Jordan, Phil Collins, and JR Robinson are some of the players that have mastered this approach.

However, playing music that was recorded "without a net", which basically means any recordings before the 1970s, requires us to "ride the wave" of the time. When humans play music without an artificial timekeeper like a metronome, there are all sorts of little micro peaks and valleys in the time. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact this is what gives a lot of music its humanity. Even recordings that noticeably speed up or slow down are okay to play along with, as long as we're aware of this and it isn't the only way we work on keeping time.

In conclusion, let's listen to Elvin Jones on Wayne Shorter's Night Dreamer where Mr. Jones manages to keep his lovely laid back feel even though the tune also speeds up! It almost seems like he's defying gravity, but this is just one of the many things we love about Elvin! :) 

UPDATE: Todd Bishop at Cruise Ship Drummer wrote a very thoughtful post explaining his use of loops in his teaching method as well as his personal practice, and I agree with his points completely. He also mentions the limits of playing to recordings vs. live playing, which I will address as well in a future post. Thanks Todd, you rock (and swing!) 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Ted Warren interview - Avi Granite 6

 The Avi Granite 6 just completed a run of shows to support the newly released recording "Operator".

We had a great time and the band's sound continues to evolve.

Avi is great at finding interesting ways to promote his music, so here's a short interview with me discussing the project.

Special thanks to interviewer/videographer Jill Stella for setting me at ease. :) 

Monday, March 6, 2023

Swiss Army Knife Triplets

So, recently I heard a great Pipe and Drum band here in Guelph. I just loved how lightly and fleetly they played. Also what was interesting was that even though the instrumentation was only the pipes, bass, tenor and snare drum, it was a very full and complete sound. Even more interestingly, because all the tonality was over a drone (sounded like C to me) it almost sounded like the bass and tenor drums were tuned to that pitch. Any Pipe band people who can clarify this for me?

Anyway, this experience got me thinking of other drum systems "across the pond" and I started fooling around with Swiss Army Triplets (RRL or LLR with a flam at the beginning.) I combined this with a 3-5-7-9 grouping exercise I borrowed from guitar great Reg Schwager and came up with this….. 

Notice that once you get past the 3 subdivision the rudiment starts going over the barline which gives it an interesting sound. Here's me playing it. Sorry the click isn't louder. Believe me, it was blowing my head off when I was filming. :) 

So, for this hybrid rudiment, I came up with the very-not-gimmicky name Swiss Army Knife Triplets. I don't know if I can claim this exercise is as useful as a Swiss army knife, but it is excellent for timing and concentration. Have fun and be good to yourselves! 

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Thank you Wayne

 A creative life well lived. Thank you for fearlessly leading the way. There will never be anyone like you……

Monday, February 27, 2023

More brushes, because, why not?

 Here's another straight vs. swung brush pattern, very creatively named, "Straight Vs. Swung #2"! 

No, please, we must continue……….

In both versions I filmed (one on the snare, and the other one divided between the toms) the right hand is sweeping straight 8ths, the downbeats heading to the right and away from us, the brush on the head the whole time. The left hand is also constantly on the drum and is making clockwise circles in the "Jazz quarter note triplet" rhythm.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Avi Granite 6 Tour

 If you're in Western Canada, Toronto, or Ottawa, come see us! It's a super fun band and this release is our best yet! 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Left Hand Lead Hi-Hat 16ths

 The other day I was watching another instalment of John Christopher's great interview show, Live From My Drum Room, this episode was with Clem Burke. ( See below.) 

It's a great interview in general, but one of the things I twigged onto was when Mr. Burke mentioned that often when he's playing hand to hand 16th notes on the hi-hat, he leads with his left hand. Like Clem Burke, I am a left handed person playing a right handed drum set up, so when I first started playing, I would play 16th notes this way myself. I later trained myself to play this idea the "conventional way", meaning playing the down beats with my right hand, but this interview got me thinking….

If one plays a hi-hat pattern with both hands and leads right handed, all the backbeats on the snare drum (meaning beats 2 & 4) are played with the right hand but in almost any other situation, this is played with the left hand. I've always found it challenging to get the same sound on the snare with my right hand as with my left, and if one isn't leaving the hi-hat that much, I find moving over to the snare much more comfortable with my left hand. So, I started experimenting with this, and even trying beats where the the toms or cymbals are involved. I'll enclose some examples to try below but generally I found if we consider the LH facing "in" in this situation and the RH facing "out' , as most RH players turn to their left slightly when using both hands on the HH, beats where upbeats are played on the "outer" part of the drum set work better with left hand lead, and rhythms with downbeats on the toms and/or cymbals work well the other way around.
Before we get to the examples I've written, a great way to practice this is to play along with the song Clem Burke made famous,  Blondie's classic "Heart of Glass" .Even though the original groove is mainly 8th notes played with the right hand, you'll notice most of the fills are left hand lead, so it's a perfect song to introduce oneself to the concept. You can even try it with 16ths on the hi-hats with your left hand leading, as it's not too fast and the hands don't move around that much. Check it out.

And as promised, here's a couple of ideas where the hands are moving around a bit more.

My apologies for the "natural font', I just jotted these down in a hurry. The open note with a dot in the middle is the snare, everything else should be self-explanatory. Examples 1 & 2 are left-hand lead, 3 & 4 lead with the right. For extra practise, try a bar of either 1 or 2 followed by a bar of 3 or 4, sticking in a double stroke near the end of the bar to change the hand leading. I find this greatly increases flexibility with this, and then the decision of whether to lead 16ths with the right or left is purely a matter of what works best for the particular piece one is playing. Have fun! 

P.S. The inclusion of "Heart of Glass" the day before Valentine's Day is no reflection on my current personal life or my strong belief in love! Have a great day tomorrow everyone! 

Monday, February 13, 2023

Believe in yourself!

 The current population of Sydney Australia is about 5 million people, which may seem like a lot, but the current world population is 8 billion. What does this have to do with these wise words from Mr. Big Foot? Well, current estimates tell us that there are approximately 5 million drummers in the world. Again, that may seem like a large number but it actually accounts of only 0.06% of the world's population, like Sydney compares to the rest of the world. In other words, individuals like us that can create magic with 2 pieces of lumber and make inanimate circles of wood and metal sing are quite rare indeed. You are special and what you do is unique and needed in the world. Keep at it! :) 

Monday, February 6, 2023



It's interesting. I don't have much patience for excessive drama in my personal life, but I often feel like it's lacking in some drumming. What do I mean by this? Oxford defines drama as an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances. So, to keep an audience engaged, let's think about ways we can create these types of events or circumstances.

1.  Dynamics!  Dynamics! Dynamics!
The drums have a massive dynamic range, and we rarely use the extremes, or vary them as much as we could.

2.  Strength of time feel
 The music doesn't reach its full potential if the time feel is off. If it's erratic or sluggish, it will lack the intensity to be truly dramatic.

3. Use of                                   space!
Music becomes dull if we always play with the same density of sound. Just because we can play super fast and use all 4 limbs doesn't mean we should all the time! Using space in the music creates interest.

4. Clarity of ideas
If we are telling the story of the music without unnecessary ornamentation we can get our point across much more effectively. Better storytelling = more excitement. 

5. Big Picture Thinking
If we are just thinking about playing an impressive lick rather than the architecture of the tune/solo/set/evening of music/recording in it's totality, the whole thing isn't going to hold together very well, and thus will lack, you guessed it, drama! 

So, next time you play, think about how you can create more drama. Just leave it on the bandstand though. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

Radical Acceptance- Peter Hum Group-Analysis of Drum performance

 I recently played a couple of wonderful nights with Peter Hum's quartet at the Rex, and Kenji Omae, our great Tenor Sax player, filmed one of Peter's new compositions, Radical Acceptance. I thought I would post a chart of the composition as well as the video and I would go through how I approached playing this tune.

Here's the PDF

 Probably the most important thing to mention is the form.It's quite interesting because on the in head the from is ABCD and then E is Tenor and Guitar trading over the solo chord changes. Then when they cue us we play the tune in the reverse order (DCBA) and ends with the piano vamp it starts with. So it's got this great construction that I would liken to a flower that opens in the morning, blooms all day, and then closes its petals at the end of the day. The fact that I'm referring to a composition this way may sound "flowery" , but I often find imagery can help me conceptualize a piece and figure out how to approach it. So basically, I was trying to grow and build the piece all the way to the end of the solo section at E and then gradually bring it back down to where it started.

As I stated, the piece starts with solo piano playing a rhythmic vamp. I basically tried to incorporate and riff around that rhythm into the groove I was playing. It also felt like I should generally play all the 8th notes in the bar with my right hand, to give it some drive. Also, on reflection, it sounds a little far on top of the beat for my taste, but it least it feels exciting! 

This generally goes well. Then we get to D. During that section (with the 3 bar phrases) Peter wanted it to have a little more space. I am also generally filling in the 3rd measure of all those phrases. Then I make my first error! I missed the repeat at D and went back to more of a groove again the 2nd time. But I played the figures as well and I don't think anyone was the wiser, although it made letter D slightly less effective. (I assure you, these sort of things happen all the time. The trick is to cover for them as smoothly as possible.)

Then we go on to E which has tenor and guitar playing the melody before they start trading phrases over the same chords for the solo section. I bring the volume and density down into this section to give some room for it to grow. I start off the solo section relatively quiet and playing mainly short sounds and avoid cymbals to create more space for the tenor and guitar. At around 2:22 I go back to the groove I was playing at the beginning but with the intend of gradually getting busier and louder as the solos go on. Shortly after this I turn the snares on the snare drum (for the first time in this tune) to further build the energy. As the solo section goes on, I'm filling more and playing more soloistically, even as I am still listening to the tenor/guitar and supporting them with the groove. Eventually, I settle into a bit of a pseudo-backbeat sort of thing, (around 3:30)  because it feels like a good way to add energy and drama. As the trades get shorter I'm also trying to keep building. With soloists this strong, it's easy to "run out of gas" chops-wise, so it's good to take one's time building volume and density. At around 5:16, I mistakenly think letter D has been cued, when it's actually the ensemble section at letter E instead. Again, I adjust and move on. Nobody's perfect! :) When we do get to letter D, my volume has already dropped somewhat, as I'm trying to take us back to the sparse quite sound we had at the top of the tune. I then go back to my original groove and keep bringing it down by going to the hi-hat, also keeping the backbeat on the cross stick to keep the urgency up while still coming down dynamically, finally going to the side of the cymbal with the right hand to bring it down even more to the end.

I hope you find this helpful. It's great to get a chance to interpret someone's original music. It often can be less intimidating than playing standard tunes that have been played spectacularly by geniuses many times! :) Feel free to try multiple ways of interpreting a tune. There are always options and it sometimes may take a bit of trial and error to find the way that works for you. As always, have fun and be good to yourselves. :) 

Monday, January 23, 2023

Extended Brush Technique

 Really the title of this post is just a swanky way of categorizing a brush technique where the brush is "rolled" on the drum with the palm of the hand. I've used this idea before but I'm trying to put it in a few more contexts, as shown below……

1. This is a beat with the RH rolling the brush and the LH playing the skip beat of the standard jazz ride rhythm in a clockwise circle.

2. In this example I'm rolling the LH brush (sorry it's difficult to see) on the skip beat and alternating that with "Buzzing" the LH off the rim. RH circles quarter notes clockwise.

3. Here I'm playing a sort of Samba (w/ varying bd parts) and rolling the LH on the +s of 1 & 3.

4. Finally I'm rolling both hands (sorry the floor tom is out of view) to the melody of "C Jam Blues".

Just keep in mind it's an important step in developing techniques that we find practical places to use them. Have fun! 

Monday, January 16, 2023

The hazards of independent coordination

Many may not agree with me here, but I feel one advantage horn players have over guitarists, pianists, and drummers is that it is very difficult, if not impossible to play more than a note at a time.. As a result, people who play these instruments get very good at implying harmony through their choice of notes in a line. But pianists and drummers can play very thickly, and tend to get obsessed with layering of notes and rhythms. I am guilty of this on both these instruments! 

I was doing a grant application and was going through some video of my band from about a year ago. The performances were good but I felt myself saying , "Well, that's a lot of drums, but what does it mean?" and " There seems to be a lot of the same texture of sound throughout this performance". So, I have been thinking about and experimenting with playing a lot less at times, and making sure there are sparse textures as well as thick ones. I find myself finding this issue with other players as well. It seems to be the hip thing these days to crowd as much drums and cymbals as possible into the music, and I'm getting a little sick of it, to be frank.

Here's a great example of a mainly melodic rather than harmonic solo from the great Shelly Manne. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

New Avi Granite 6 album, "Operator" Coming soon…..

Here's footage of the tune "Good Deal" from the upcoming Avi Granite 6 album "Operator". We're also doing a Canadian tour in February/March. 

Monday, January 9, 2023

The evolution of practice, or how are those resolutions going so far?

 There is a lot of mythology surrounding instrumentalist's practice. I recall reading about legendary players and their infamous practice regimes, and thinking that I had to get into that "8 hours a day, for a start" vibe, otherwise I wasn't going to amount to anything! Truth be told, I have never gotten past about 4 hours at a stretch, or 6 in a day with breaks. I also find a lot of people overestimate or underestimate the amount they put in on their instrument. Played along with music for an hour today? As long as you were aware etc. while you were doing it, I would count that as practice! Staring at a hole in your shoe during hour 10 through 11 of your daily routine? I would contend there may be better ways to spend your time. In fact, the level of engagement, rather than amount of time, is how I currently gage my practice time. For the past 10 years or so, it's a rare day I get beyond an hour of practice, and currently a lot of my sessions are a half hour long. Yet I still feel like I've made a lot of progress. Why? 

1. I do practice almost every single day

Even though the individual sessions are quite short, I find I give my body and mind a lot of chances to process the information.

2. I tend to review what I last did

As well, the last thing I worked tends to lay the groundwork for the next thing I do. It's almost like a lifetime of thematic playing!

3. I don't practice too many things

Often a practice session will be around a single idea or issue

Finally, it's important to realize that one's practice routine evolves over the course of one's life. This current routine I have would probably not be enough for an intermediate or college level player. There's simply too many things to learn and do, and most players at this age haven't even figured out what type of player they'll eventually be. I.E. I don't spend a lot of time working double bass drum chops or stick twirling, and that's entirely a conscious decision! So when figuring out how to practice, look at where you're at and what you need, and don't be afraid to tweak it if you're not finding it effective.

Happy practicing! 

Monday, January 2, 2023

Research and Development

 I think I've mentioned this before, but I still spend time looking for new sounds, colours, and techniques at the drums. At the stage demonstrated below I'm not looking at what to do with the things I find. In fact, some of them I never find a practical use for. That doesn't concern me though. I also am not trying to make this smooth or palatable or any sort of "performance". The journey is the goal. Here's some video of me trying a few things out…..